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Another Batch of Elvers Confiscated in Philippine Airport

Health Biosecurity Eels +8 more

PHILIPPINES - Only two months have passed when 46 boxes (approximately two million) of freshwater eel fry or elvers were confiscated at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Manila, Philippines by the Quarantine personnel of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Region IV-A (BFAR 4A) and the Bureau of Customs. On September 16, another 13 boxes of elvers, (approximately 468,000) were intercepted at the Pair Pagss Cargo, NAIA, writes Anna Merlinna T. Fontanilla, BFAR.

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The elvers were bound to Kaohsiung, Taiwan via China Airlines flight CI 712 but there were no identified shipper and consignee of the shipment as this was later abandoned according to a report. The elvers were immediately re-oxygenated by technical staff of BFAR 4A and transported to the Inland Fisheries Research Station (IFRS) of BFAR in Ambulong, Tanauan, Batangas on September 17, 2012 for proper handling and disposal.

Upon reaching IFRS at around 12 noon, the elvers suffered mass mortalities and only 1.1 per cent survived because of stress during transport. The remaining elvers were dispersed to a local fisheries school (200 pieces) on September 19, 2012 and to the upland rivers of Rizal province (5,000 pieces) on September 21, 2012. The previously confiscated elvers were also dispersed to upland rivers connecting the two provinces of Rizal and Quezon for propagation of the species.

Elvers are highly priced from P20,000 to P30,000 per kilo (around $450 to $700 per kilo) as they are considered a delicacy in many Asian countries such as Japan, China and Korea. In the Philippines, elvers are being rapidly exploited because of the sharp increase in its market price both locally and internationally (from P2,500 in 2011 to P28,000 early this year). This has prompted BFAR to reinstate the ban on elvers under the Fisheries Administrative Order No. 242 signed in April 10,2012 which carries a penalty of eight years imprisonment, confiscation of catch or a fine equivalent to double the export value of the same, and revocation of fishing and/or export permit.